The Three Little Cockers and How They Grew by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
The Three Little Cockers and How They Grew
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
I was discussing low self-esteem recently with one of my private counseling clients. She said when she walks into a room, she always compares herself to other women in dress, intelligence, career choice, the manner of speaking ‘everything!
This, of course, causes her a lot of anxiety. If she perceives that others are better in one area than she is, she is demoralized and often remains quiet’too afraid to share her thoughts and ideas to the conversation. If she finds herself better than the others in some way, she gets a moment’s relief. But no matter which way she goes, her self-worth is questionable.
That caused me to think of my three cocker spaniels who have such different personalities. Each appears to love their unique qualities and interests’and I’ve never seen them try to be like the other one. I have two friends, Martha and Sheri, who do wonderful pet photography. Recently they had ‘Christmas in July’ which was a portrait sitting for dogs with Santa Claus. I took the cockers, Scooter, puppy Gabe, and Sasha, to their studio and noticed what they did upon arrival.
Scooter, the very outgoing ‘me first’ tri-color, greeted everyone with enthusiasm, including giving Santa a kiss’he just knew everyone was happy to see him! He’s full of himself, knows it and likes it! Sasha, the black and tan independent female, barely acknowledged anyone as she went straight for the toy box in other words, she went shopping! Little Gabe, a sweet, quiet soul, walked in slowly, took it all in and decided to quietly sit next to me. He’s slow to make new friends as he wants to check things out first. And that’s good that each can be their authentic self.
What can parents do to instill self-worth in children? Of course, give praise for good behavior’make it specific to the action through not vague. Admire and enjoy your child’s uniqueness. Never compare one child with another (‘I wish you would xyz like your brother.’). Avoid labels such as the ‘quiet child,’ ‘smart one,’ ‘silly one,’ etc. Model your self-worth by not putting yourself down and accepting praise when you receive it. Watch gossip as it tends to lend itself to being negative in general’it’s often a “one-upmanship” game to be avoided. Make sure that when each day ends, your children have heard more positive words from you than negative. That will give them a great start on being positive with themselves and with others.
Copyright 2016, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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